Katherine Grainger: UK Sport names Olympic gold medallist as new chair – BBC Sport

Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins

Katherine Grainger (right) won gold in the double sculls with partner Anna Watkins at London 2012

Olympic gold medallist Dame Katherine Grainger has been named as the new chair of UK Sport.

Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian retired from rowing after winning a medal at a fifth Games last summer.

The 41-year-old will succeed Rod Carr as head of the funding agency for elite sport.

Grainger was up against former Paralympic swimmer Marc Woods, who also competed at five Games.

It comes as recommendations aimed at improving athletes’ welfare have been published as part of a major independent report into British sport.

They are the result of a year-long duty of care review, commissioned by the UK government and led by 11-time Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Grey-Thompson.

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Katherine Grainger: ‘Still getting used to being a dame’

The Scot took two years out after winning Olympic gold in London at her fourth attempt, studying for a Phd and working with the BBC on its coverage of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She returned to compete in Brazil, where she won her fourth silver medal.

“London was an incredible end point in my career but for personal reasons I wanted to come back and have another go,” she told BBC Scotland in 2016.

“The (last) medal is sinking in and I understand that now but having the historical side on top takes a bit longer to get used to.”

After the announcement, Julian Knight MP, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, tweeted: “Hopefully she will start the process of cleaning out the Augean Stables at UK Sport and the sports they fund.”

Analysis

BBC sports editor Dan Roan

Dame Katherine Grainger will come into this job at a critical and challenging time for UK Sport.

The funding agency may have overseen unprecedented medal success but never before has its ‘no-compromise’ approach been under such scrutiny, amid a spate of athlete welfare and anti-doping controversies and criticism from certain sports over its funding decisions.

Grainger is a vastly decorated and inspirational Olympian, and while a surprise, her appointment will be welcomed by many athletes who want more consideration now given to duty of care.

But according to well-placed sources, she was unsure about applying for the role, and given her lack of sports administration experience, it will be interesting to see whether she can bring about the changes at UK Sport that some critics believe are now urgently required.

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